The birthcoat of coarse wool Barki lambs was investigated at the age of 1–1·5 months. Lambs were covered when they were 2 months old to study kemp succession, and some other adult fleece traits, at the age of 16 months in relation to the birthcoat fibre type arrays. Samples were taken from three dorsal and three lateral positions. The average halo hair grade was 5·45% and the coarse fibre type array, plateau, contributed 64·7% of the birthcoat arrays, the rest were of the less coarse, saddle, type. Halo hair grade and fibre type arrays showed an antero-posterior gradient, increasing in score and coarseness posteriorly.
All halo hairs, 41·9% of super sickles and 22·6% of hairy tip curly tip fibres were shed as first generation kemp (G1 Curly tip and histerotrich fibres shed the least and they contributed the majority of the total persistent fibres. When pre-curly tip fibres increased in the birthcoat samples, that was followed by more kemp in the adult fleece.
The average G1% kemp was 4·43. Kemp decreased in subsequent generations, values were 34·50 and 8·37 for G2/G1% and G1/%, respectively. G1%, and G2/G1% kemp showed a general trend of an increase towards posterior positions; the shoulder position was an exception to that.
Coarse birthcoat fibre type arrays, plateau, were followed by more kemp in G1% and in successive generations than were the less coarse, saddle, arrays. High values of G2/G1% kemp were followed by significantly high G3/G1% kemp. Within animals, there was a significant correlation (P < 0·01) between halo hair grade and G1% kemp.
Staple length showed a tendency to increase towards posterior positions and females showed slightly longer staples than those of males. A slight trend of decrease in staple length was observed following the less coarse array, saddle, as compared with that which followed the coarse array, plateau.
For selection against kemp at an early stage, though birthcoat halo hair grade was positively correlated with G1% kemp, a high halo hair grade is essential for the lamb's early survival, hence fibre type arrays should be considered in selection. Less coarse birthcoat arrays, saddle in the present material, and a high, within array, curly tip: pre-curly tip ratio would be preferrable.